Is Our Historians Learning? Popular, Academic, and Political History

Last Thursday, PhD student and amateur historian Rebecca Rideal published a book about London in the very busy year of 1666.[1] Written for "the general reader", it's entitled 1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire. As is not unusual for authors of trade books to do -- when the chance presents itself -- she gave an interview in … Continue reading Is Our Historians Learning? Popular, Academic, and Political History


Social Media and the Serious Academic

Should "serious academics" make time for social media? At least two recent commentators (I'm guessing there are more out there, but it may be hasty to speak of a silent majority) think not. Many -- naturally including a slew of "twitterstorians" and academic bloggers -- have responded, detailing the ways social media facilitates their work and lampooning their … Continue reading Social Media and the Serious Academic

Flipping the Course Evaluation

Student course evaluations have taken a well-deserved beating recently, most notably thanks to studies showing their endemic gender bias, but also for their broader unreliability as measures of teaching and learning. These findings add significant empirical weight to an older set of somewhat more anecdotal, philosophical or speculative criticisms: Were the teachers who taught you best the ones you liked … Continue reading Flipping the Course Evaluation

Back to School: Teaching, Research, and Regret

Our academic year begins in a couple of weeks, which means that this is the time for finishing, revising or at the very least updating course syllabi with the relevant dates. My teaching load is on the light side: two courses per semester, plus a moderate number of graduate and honours supervisions. (For the sake of comparison, a large, … Continue reading Back to School: Teaching, Research, and Regret

If Historians Ran the World

Historians are all atwitter over the "Applied History Project", the brainchild of Harvard scholar Graham Allison and globetrotting virtual historian Niall Ferguson. With what would seem like hubris in lesser mortals, the two projectors call on the next US President to create a "Council of Historical Advisers": a body of historians to help with policy much as the current Council … Continue reading If Historians Ran the World

Trump and the Myth of Independence, Part 2

As noted in my last, I'd like to say a little more about a specific thread of Trumpism that seems to have gained traction among people who might not otherwise choose to identify publicly with a bigot. This is the idea that as a super-rich bigot, Trump is exempt from the kinds of corruption that infect politicians … Continue reading Trump and the Myth of Independence, Part 2